Sun. Jun 7th, 2020

The Hollywood Museum Reunites The Ladies Of ‘Knots Landing,’ Joan Van Ark, Michelle Lee, Donna Mills For 40TH Anniversary

The Hollywood Museum’s first Lobby tribute of 2020 hosted by Donelle Dadigan, will reunite three remarkable leading ladies, Joan Van Ark, Michele Lee and Donna Mills, for the 40th anniversary of “Knots Landing,” unveiling costumes worn by the three series’ stars.

 “Knots Landing” was created by David Jacobs in conjunction with producer Michael Filerman. While it’s a spin-off of “Dallas,” the concept predates that series, and was rebuffed by CBS. Jacobs then created “Dallas,” which the network accepted and premiered in 1978. After “Dallas” became a hit, Jacobs was then able to adapt “Knots Landing” as a spin-off series by way of incorporating characters introduced in the parent series.

Though not as popular in the ratings, at first, as “Dallas,” “Knots Landing” eventually outlasted it and garnered much critical acclaim. This can be attributed, in part, to more dramatic storylines and the gradual inclusion of newer characters to interact with the original cast. By the 1988-89 season, “Knots Landing” was ahead of “Dallas” in the ratings.

In 1997, much of the cast reunited for a two-part mini-series entitled “Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac.” In 2005, they reunited again for the non-fiction special “Knots Landing Reunion: Together Among those also attending include: Donnna Pescow (Saturday Night Fever/Angie), Anson Williams (Happy Days), Leeza Gibbons (Rose Parade Host), Lainie Kazan (My Big Fat Great Wedding), George Chakiris (West Side Story), Carolyn Hennesy (GH/Jesse/True Blood), Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair), Meredith Thomas (Disconnected), Lee Purcell (Valley Girl/Carol of the Bells), Don Most (Happy Days), Billy Van Zandt (The Hughleys/Yes, Dear), Teresa Ganzel (The Toy), Diana Lansleen (Y&R/Days of Our Lives), Kate Linder (Y&R), Connor Dean (9.1.1.), Jax Malcolm (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Todd Sherry (Life In Pieces/Parks & Recreation), Elaine Ballace (The Rich & the Ruthless), Erin Murphy (Bewitched), and more

Exhibit Opens to public on Jan 19th, 2020.     

“Knots Landing” was one of the quintessential prime time television soap operas, airing on CBS from December 27, 1979, to May 13, 1993.  A spin-off of “Dallas,” (although created prior) it was set in a fictitious coastal suburb of Los Angeles and initially centered on the lives of four married couples living on the cul-de-sac, Seaview Circle. By the time of its conclusion, storylines had included rape, murder, kidnapping, assassinations, drug smuggling, corporate intrigue, and criminal investigations; and it had became onne of the longest-running primetime dramas on U.S. television as was “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza.”  


After spending a year studying drama at the University of Illinois, she made her way to New York, where she landed an understudy role in Woody Allen’s play, “Don’t Drink the Water”. Her first television role was on the daytime soap opera The Secret Storm (1954) in 1966. The next year, she made her film debut in the hard-hitting drama The Incident (1967). In 1971, she co-starred in the popular thriller Play Misty for Me (1971). Donna made guest appearances on top-rated series throughout the seventies and carved a niche for herself in made-for-TV movies. In 1980, she joined the cast of the primetime soap Knots Landing (1979) as wicked Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing Sumner. After a successful nine-year tenure, Donna left the show to pursue other projects. She continued to headline a range of television films, several of which she produced, often highlighting important social issues. These including Outback Bound (1988), The World’s Oldest Living Bridesmaid (1990), Runaway Father (1991), In My Daughter’s Name (1992) and My Name Is Kate (1994). More recently, she’s had a recurring role on General Hospital, winning an Emmy for her role.


Shortly after she appeared on Broadway, she began making a number of guest appearances on television, most notably The Danny Kaye Show and her career was off to a firing start. She made her movie debut with the film How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, followed by The Comic, co-starring Dick Van Dyke and starring as Secretary Carole Bennett in the best movie of 1970, The Love Bug. The producers of “Knots Landing” introduced Lee to the series and became #1 for the next 13 seasons. By 1982, she was nominated for one Emmy Award and had won the Soap Opera Digest Award, three times. She starred opposite Valerie Harper in the Broadway play “Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” in New York and returned to the big screen to play Ben Stiller’s mother in Along Came Polly.


Van Ark began her professional career at the Minneapolis Guthrie Theater in Moliere’s “The Miser”, opposite Hume Cronyn and Zoe Caldwell. That was followed by “Death of a Salesman” at the Guthrie with both Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. After a season at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Joan was cast in the national touring company of “Barefoot in the Park”, directed by Mike Nichols, recreating the role in London and later on Broadway. She earned a Tony nomination for her performance in “The School for Wives” and won the Theater World Award for “The Rules of the Game”. She is perhaps best known for her role as “Valene Ewing” beginning on Dallas (1978) and then on the spin-off series, Knots Landing (1979). During the 13 seasons as “Val”, she earned six nominations and two Soap Opera Digest Awards for Best Actress and continues to work regularly and is married to her high school sweetheart, John Marshall, a former award-winning TV newsman, who now heads an on-line news service.

The Hollywood Museum (located in the Historic Max Factor Building) 1660 N Highland Ave, Hwd CA (corner of Highland Ave and Hollywood Blvd) 

Hollywood Museum Founder/President, Donelle Dadigan welcomes guests at Podium

ABOUT THE HOLLYWOOD MUSEUM: The Hollywood Museum is the Official Museum of Hollywood, located in the historic Max Factor Building, and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation showcasing more than 10,000 Authentic Show Business Treasures, spotlighting 100 years of Hollywood history – from the Silents to Talkies, to Hollywood’s Golden Era, Film Noir, Television and its Pioneer Years, through the rebellious 60s, special effects 70s, evolving 80s, involved 90s, technological 2000s, and beyond to current day heartthrobs! The Hollywood Museum’s exhibits showcase the best in film, network and cable television, and new digital platforms featuring iconic and fan favorites!

The Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building is the Official Museum of Hollywood and offers visitors the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world – featuring the glamour of Hollywood legends and stars – past, present and in the making. The Hollywood Museum offers one-of-a-kind costumes, props, photographs, scripts, stars’ car collections, personal artifacts, posters, and memorabilia from favorite stars, films and TV shows. Located in the heart of Hollywood, at the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave, just steps from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Museum has been named the #1 top tourist attraction in Hollywood by LA Weekly, and one of the “Top 10” Museums in LA by the LA Tourism and Convention Board and Trip Advisor.  

REGULAR HOURS: Wednesday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm TICKETS: $15 Adults: $12 Seniors (62+): $12 for students with ID and $5 Children under 5.
ADDRESS: 1660 N. Highland Ave. (at Hollywood Blvd.), Los Angeles, CA 90028

MUSEUM INFO: or Tel: (323) 464-7776
TWITTER: @HollywoodMuseum
INSTAGRAM: @HollywoodMuseum 

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett

Photographs are Courtesy: Joan Van Ark, Donelle Dadigan, Michele Lee and Donna Mills by Bill Dow; Original Cast shot CBS/Lorimar Productions

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